Track conditions could not have been better for the first meeting of the NG Road Racing year. We were greeted at Brands Hatch by bright sunshine all weekend….albeit if the mornings were a little chilly. The riders reported excellent track conditions and bags of grip
It wasn’t just a day, but a weekend to remember for Josh Day and the Dayo Racing Team, for Josh who just two seasons back was runner-up in the NG Newcomers championship has progressed in leaps and bounds. Now at just 20 years old he will be embarking on what could be the most important year of his racing career.
For Josh, a paint sprayer from Cirencester in Gloucestershire has his eyes set on a full tilt at the Metzeler National Superstock 600 Championship, and this early season Brands round would see him pit himself against a number of riders for are also headed for the BSB Superstock grids.
He is still looking though to take in as many NG rounds as possible, but with this Brands meeting being just three weeks before the first National rounds at Brands it was an ideal time to see where he stood in the pre-season pecking order.
A number of other Superstock riders came along to get in a bit of vital practice on the Brands Indy Circuit. Leon Hunt, Jay Lewis, Jimmy Dye, Ben Padgett, and Luke Mossey all had the same idea. It was Josh though that would lead from start to finish each time out, also setting a new NG lap record for the 600 class at 49.12 on Saturday in the George White Superbikes backed 600 final.
It is safe to say that on Saturday Day was untouchable on his imaculate ’09 R6s, supplied by George Whites in Swindon and run with backing from Mainstream Digital, Corinium Construction and W Lea, with the vital engine preparation being done by Gary Vardy. Sunday though saw Leon Hunt, in particular on the Atomic Tangerine R6 lift his game pushing Josh all the way as Mossey on the Sabresport R6, Jimmy Dye and Jay Lewis were are forced out through either mechanicals…. or rider error…..of which we’ll say no more young Mr Lewis!!!.
The wins not only put Josh on top of the championship table but also at the head of the chase for the Co-ordit Performance Relay ride for the fully funded season at BSB under the Co-ordit banner in 2010.
Speaking of Pete Bradshaw’s Co-ordit Team, they had a strong presence all weekend as both Richard Cooper and Phil Bevan were out in force. Cooper was having an early outing on the first of the teams three new ’09 R1 growler Yamaha’s and although he was unbeaten in all the weekends finals taking the flag first in both Phoenix Open and Progressive Solutions Powerbike classes team mate Bevan pushed hard, especially on Sunday.
True to his overnight predictions Bevan took his old R1 to a new NG lap record for the 1.2mile Indy circuit at 47.60 secs which equates to 90.60mph. Try as me might though although former NG overall champion Bevan could catch the talented young Cooper, he just could not find a way past, having to settle for runner-up placings. I think it is fair to say that Bevan cannot wait to get his hands on his new R1 when it is fully prepared.
Lee Keeble had a great weekend with strong top three placings both days on his CTS R1 and although he said this year is all about chasing wins, he must be pleased to start the year with a hat-full of championship points. Especially when we must assume Cooper will not be in it for the long haul, although Bevan said he was going to try and persuade Cooper to come down to Pembrey in April, which is where Bevan runs his track day company for a rematch.
After a below par day on Saturday Michael Blank came good on Sunday and was back on form, battling with Chris Pope who was having a great meeting on his AFB R1 and Mark Compton. Motorcycle Racer Magazines Bruce Wilson improved all weekend on his new ZX10R Kawasaki, proving the new Kawasaki is a much better package than in previous seasons. Other riders using this meeting as preparations for the Easter BSB were Kenny Gilbertson and Daniel Brill, who were never far away from the sharp end.
For the other classes it was certainly a case of doubles all round with Corey Lewis taking both Saturday and Sundays Refined Recruitment 125GP finals from Dan Morton, and Danny Buchan both A and R F400 finals.
Last year’s 400 streetstock champ Rich Troth has taken on a new challenge this year by moving into the Big C Mini Twins class and he too took wins on both days to pick up maximum points on an SV 650. While Phil Dongworth and Gary Partridge got the better of a very strong sidecar field taking the pair of wins and setting new best lap figures in the CSC and Century 2000 Sidecar class.
Mike Russell also had a maximum haul in the Dara Brady 400 two strokes.
As we have already said Josh Day took the George White 600 wins and Richard Cooper al the top spots in the Phoenix Open and Progressive Solutions Powerbike.
Last years 700 Metzeler / DTR Streestock runner-up Nick Andrews started his ’09 campaign by finishing first on both Saturday and Sunday as he hopes to go one better this term. Whilst a slightly below par 400 streetstock grid saw James Francis grab the early season advantage, as he held off a spirited challenge from Shannon Hale.
Charlie King and Wayne Ryan share honours in the very hotly contested Steve Lynham F125 races. KTM RC8 series rider Edward Smith along with former class champ Adam Tempest took one apiece in the Team Spidey Sound of Thunder, although paddock rumour says neither rider will run the full year, so the way could still be open for Andy Peck or impressive class new boy Darryl Alexander to come good on their Aprilia Milles, as they take on the 675 Triumph hordes.
Peter Carr took Saturdays 1300 Metzeler DTR Streetstock final after pre season tip Hillary Philips lost a brake caliper in qualifying, but Phillips bounced back on Sunday to dominate, with Adrian Shaw making his intentions clear with two strong rides on his new Hennessey builder GSXR.
Josh Day was awarded the performance of the weekend award whilst Scott Witts was named the newcomer of the meeting with a series of spirited rides on his SV650 Suzuki.
2008 Overall NG champion Joe Symonds had a torrid start to his title defence as his R1 blew a head gasket on Saturday. But such is the friendly nature of the NG Paddock Jer Thomas lent Joe his spare bike in a bid to salvage some points.
However on the warm up lap for the Powerbike final Joe clipped the kerb at the bottom of Hailwood Hill and was painfully dumped into the gravel trap. After receiving superb medical attention from the circuit doctors he was airlifted to hospital and after initial concerns is now making progress, and we hope to see him back in the NG paddock soon. Many riders have asked me to pass on well wishes to the ten-time NG Road Racing champion.
Next stop Pembrey on the 25th and 26th April